E-cigarette Usage Growth in New Zealand Schools Raises Concerns

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E-cigarette Usage Growth in New Zealand Schools Raises Concerns
The number of New Zealand schools suspending students for smoking and e-cigarette use has increased by almost 300%.

According to a news report from ellington.scoop on September 7th, the Ministry of Education in New Zealand has revealed that the number of school suspensions due to smoking and e-cigarette use has increased by nearly 300% between 2019 and 2022. Wellington, in particular, has experienced a staggering increase of 447%.


Ms. Letitia Harding, CEO of the New Zealand Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, expressed that these are not isolated cases, and unfortunately, it is becoming an increasingly common challenge for many families.


She said, "We have heard of family members giving e-cigarettes to young people because they believe it is easier to control their children's use of e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes. This just goes to show that there is still a need for a significant amount of education to inform people that these products are highly addictive and not without harm."


Sharon Pihema, the Community Liaison Officer of the foundation, has stated that she has organized seminars for fifth and sixth-grade students as some of them have started using e-cigarettes.


We need to initiate dialogue with young people early on, attempting to identify issues before they arise. Currently, what is still missing within the entire equation is how to eradicate e-cigarettes - a form of support that is indeed lacking.


The new e-cigarette restrictions will come into effect later this month, which include lowering the permitted maximum nicotine concentration in disposable e-cigarettes to 20 milligrams per milliliter and prohibiting the establishment of new specialist e-cigarette stores within 300 meters of schools.


Mrs. Harding expressed delight in finally witnessing the implementation of some changes that the foundation has long been advocating for, but emphasized the need for further actions - and the need to take them now.


It is unfortunate that currently over 1,400 specialized e-cigarette retailers (SVR) have been included in the Health Advisory and Regulatory Platform (HARP), and it is necessary for the government to seek public opinions through elections.


The foundation is calling for a complete ban on all disposable e-cigarettes, including those with detachable batteries. They also propose the removal of SVR (Standardised Vaping Regulation) and the implementation of a rangatahi e-cigarette harm education program. Additionally, they suggest limiting the nicotine content in all e-cigarette products to 20 milligrams per milliliter and prohibiting in-store advertising and displays of e-cigarette products. The foundation also recommends a reassessment of the prescription model for nicotine-containing e-cigarettes.


The Labour Party recently announced that if they are re-elected, they will limit the number of shops allowed to sell e-cigarettes to 600, and impose stricter economic penalties on anyone selling e-cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18.


The National Party has stated that the policies of the Labour Party are not comprehensive enough, but they have not yet released an announcement regarding how they plan to address the issue of the youth e-cigarette epidemic.


The Green Party, Action Party, and Maori Party have also yet to unveil their policies.


A study conducted earlier this year in the United Kingdom revealed that at least 1.3 million disposable e-cigarettes are discarded each week, which amounts to two e-cigarettes being disposed of every second. Shockingly, approximately one million of these e-cigarettes are not properly recycled.


Ms. Harding suggested, "At the very least, we believe that the environmental costs associated with e-cigarette products might pique the interest of the Green Party.


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